One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is involvement in projects that take music and movement to sectors of the community who might not otherwise have that access. As well as co-leading the ENB’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme, I’ve joined forces with a number of dance artists to create live music sessions in hospitals and homes around the area, including a project at Witney Community Hospital, visiting the wards and day room to bring some song and dance into the daily routine.
Dancer Rhonda Sparrey and I were among 12 practitioners funded by the FLOURISH programme to encourage the use of arts among people with dementia. We led a course of eight Dance for Dementia workshops at the Christchurch Centre in Henley, featuring themes such as A Night At The Theatre and A Day At The Seaside. Here’s a short film about our work, which gives some idea of the extraordinary power of music to revive and reconnect.
Projects in 2019 have included working with dance artist Roosa Leimu-Brown on a series of Dance to Health workshops run by the University of Reading, drawing on the collection held in its Museum of English Rural Life. In August I joined a chamber group of musicians at beautiful Snape Maltings in Suffolk (below), where we accompanied Amy Mallett’s opera The Catchpole Chronicles, devised by Co-Lab, a team of experienced outreach artists. The piece was created from workshops with people who have Parkinson’s Disease, and inspired by the story of 19th-century convict Margaret Catchpole. The musicians returned to the recital hall to record the music, and there are plans to bring The Catchpole Chronicles to the Royal Opera House in 2020—watch this space!